tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

Eye candy

It seems that after nearly 6 months, progress has been made in the Pike River mine rescue/recovery operation. Footage from inside the mine is showing what appears to be a body and evidence that at least one person may have survived the initial explosion and attempted to access a fire extinguisher. At this point there has been no confirmation of either of these things as the footage is blurry and needs to be enhanced to be sure of what's in it. However, it's the first news of anything other than receivership/legal issues for a long time. It's likely to spark another push for recovery of the bodies, which has been looking less and less likely as the receivers run out of money.

It's also likely to spark speculation about survivors and criticism of the delays to rescue attempts. In another article I read, it seems that people are already doing the "Should have" thing. Frankly I think 'should have' is one of the dumbest phrases in the English language, and that the decisions made at the time were the best ones that the people making them could have made given the information they had and the circumstances. At risk of speculating myself, I also think that if a surviving miner opened a fire extinguisher but didn't open a box containing breathing apparatus that was right next to it before collapsing, chances are he had been overcome by gas pretty quickly after the initial explosion and the scenarios of starvation and fear-filled days currently being bandied about are nothing more than cruel imaginings.

I think it's a necessary thing to continue the recovery operation, and I hope that the money to do this becomes available once the enhanced video footage confirms what they think they've found. Mr Key, take note. That giant rugby ball vs recovering 29 dead miners. Free chopper rides vs recovering 29 dead miners. Paying the armed forces to break up protests against dodgy oil drilling deals vs recovering 29 dead miners. And so on.

I don't talk much about the gym because while my bodily exertions are fascinating to me, they are not so much for other people. Suffice to say I've continued going (although while the scar was open I avoided it) and last week I had meeting #2 with personal trainer, at which we developed a new program that involves quite a lot of dynamic moves that I really enjoy because they feel more like actual work than the repetitive 'push this weight this way this many times' isolation exercises that the machines seem to have. Also, I hurt all over. I like that.

So anyway, I was in there yesterday warming up on a treadmill and vaguely watching the music videos they have playing constantly. Now, they don't make the videos. They probably buy them cheap as some sort of compilation - actually I have no idea where they come from, but they play relatively modern, varied music and the accompanying videos on the big screens. Anyone who's been to a gym will know what I mean.

And a particular video came on that galvanised a feeling I've had since I started going there. I don't even know what the song was, but the video featured four women in various states of undress (bikini, crop top and mini skirt, hot pants etc) playing volleyball in a large open stadium for no apparent reason. To one side, occasionally shown in closeup, was a very average-looking white man, aged about 35, lying in a lounger and drinking a cocktail. The video would cut from him to slow-motion shots of the womens' stomachs, thighs, and bums as they leaped to hit the ball. Weirdly it avoided breasts, but the thing that really got me was an obvious focus on crotch shots. Like, from-the-ground angle shots of the mini skirt woman as she jumped, which amounted to centring her crotch in the middle of the screen. I felt vaguely pervy watching that. Then those women would go away and be replaced by another four, rinse repeat. At the end, the four women approach the man and massage his shoulders in a soft-focus, face-out-of-shot kind of way.

I was left going "Ew!" Not just because of the obvious and pointless objectification of women in this video (it was a female singer btw), but because I'd just spent three minutes looking at extreme close-ups of the most intimate part of someone else's body. It wasn't porn, all the parts were covered, and that kind of made it worse because there was a peeping-tom aspect to the whole thing that made me feel gross. And no, I don't want to look up women's skirts. I have no problem with people seeking out that kind of thing in private if that's what floats their boat - but it bothers me that in a gym, which is a very mainstream kind of place, this was my only option for things to look at (other than other people working out, which is also invasive).

The thing is, most music videos seem based on a variation of that theme - this one just took it to an extreme in an attempt to be edgy. Maybe if I could hear the words of the song it'd be a scathing commentary on the male gaze and the sexualisation of women in sport, but I couldn't hear them so for me it was pussy shots all the way. Other videos are tamer versions of the same thing - 9 out of 10 seem to be full of women in very little clothing making sexual gestures and dancing suggestively at the camera, often with a fully-clothed man somewhere in there being the recipient of said gestures. And it bothers me.

It bothers me that since we're in a gym, it's likely that body issues are thick on the ground and that I get the feeling we're supposed to aspire to have bodies like these women (it's harder to tell for the men since we don't get to see their bodies as often or in the same way - maybe they are supposed to believe they can have the women in the vids if they work out lots?) - and I'm not sure aspiring to be like those women is a healthy thing. It also bothers me that as a woman I am subjected to images of me as a crotch-shot to be perved at and that it's seen as okay. If there were equally as many images of men in various states of undress I would be less bothered by it but this is blatantly unequal treatment and I'm just going *gnng*. Normally I'm pretty immune to the onslaught of woman-as-decoration that exists in this world, but in the gym I can't avoid it, it's so blatant.

I am conflicted. I've talked before about the tension between what I see and what I choose to bring up as an issue - and it's true that I fear sounding like I'm harping on and thus I swallow down a lot more of these things than I speak up about. I don't know what impact it would have if I were to speak up - I imagine quite a lot of people like the videos - hell, I like to have something pretty to look at while working out - and would object to them being changed. I don't know how many other women who use the gym feel the same way I do, but I'd be interested to find out. I don't even know what I'd like to see happen - asking for more videos of scantily-clad men gyrating is fine, but where will the gym find these videos?*

Personally, I'd be rapt if they showed non-stop climbing videos with cool music in the background. Or snowboarding, or surfing or those crazy folks with the squirrel suits:

I think that's prettier and more inspiring that Rihanna's crotch in close-up. Just saying.

* Yes, I know, Ice Cream Truck. Makes me feel like a paedophile but is a good example for men to see what most music videos look like to a woman.
Tags: crazy guys in squirrel suits, gym vids, no more panties please
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